Amazon Diversifies Its All-White Board With Addition Of Starbucks Exec


Forbes | February 5, 2019

The Forbes article, “Amazon Diversifies Its All-White Board With Addition of Starbucks Exec,” quotes Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Nada Usina. In it, she emphasizes the need for organizations to be intentional about creating a candidate pool with a healthier amount of diversified talent. The article is excerpted below.

Amazon has appointed a black woman to its all-white board of directors after intensifying pressure to diversify the company’s leadership team.

Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, will be the fourth woman and the only person of color on Amazon’s now ten-person board.  

Previously the CEO of retail warehouse chain Sam’s Club, Brewer is the second black director to have served on Amazon’s board. Myrtle Potter, former president and COO of Genentech, was the first.

Brewer’s appointment comes as companies face growing demand from shareholders and activist groups to add more women and people of color to their board. Last year BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, asked portfolio companies with fewer than two female board members to disclose their efforts to increase board diversity.


Boards generally skew white and male, so when vacancies open, members often tap into their own limited networks or into the same go-to pool of chief executives. Tech industries in particular already lack diversity at the top, creating a self-perpetuating cycle in which new board members are in the same demographic as those who chose them.

In light of this, “organizations need to be more aggressive in creating opportunities that will make the candidate pool more robust,” says Nada Usina, a member of the board and CEO advisory group at management consulting firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

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Amazon Diversifies Its All-White Board With Addition Of Starbucks Exec